5 Years Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake

Five years ago a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off Japan’s northeastern shore—the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan—generating enormous tsunami waves that spread across miles of shoreline, climbing as high as 130 feet (40 meters). The powerful inundation of seawater tore apart coastal towns and villages, carrying ships inland as thousands of homes were flattened, then washed tons of debris and vehicles back out to sea. Damage to the reactors at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant then caused a third disaster, contaminating a wide area that still forces nearly 100,000 residents to live as evacuees. The March 11 earthquake and subsequent disasters cost tens of billions of dollars, and nearly 16,000 lives.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Andrew Harnik / AFP / Getty

    Photos: The Inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

    Scenes from a unique moment in American history

  • Samuel Corum / Getty

    An Inauguration Like No Other

    Rehearsals and preparations are underway for the upcoming inaugural ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris.

  • David Delgado / Reuters

    Photos: A Little Midwinter Fun and Beauty

    Recent images of people across the Northern Hemisphere enjoying themselves in the middle of this winter

  • Justin Sullivan / Getty

    2020 Seen Through the Lens of Justin Sullivan

    A look at some of the stories brought to us by photojournalist Justin Sullivan over the past year